We are constantly being told, by diet experts and the media alike, that in order to lose weight, we must reduce calorie intake. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done with most of us - still struggling to get into a healthy eating routine.
You may have heard of "The Zone Diet," "Keto," or "Intermittent Fasting" and their supposed benefits for performance and fat loss.
Many performance coaches and athletes have used these styles of eating with great success. Still, it is essential to remember that no one diet is good for everyone.
As a performance coach, I have seen numerous cases where a clients' performance actually decreased when following the diets mentioned above. While some of this decrease is unavoidable, most of it could have been mitigated had they tracked their food intake, macros, and calories.
Regardless of whether you are an elite athlete or a weekend warrior looking to improve performance on your local 5K route, performance optimization is undoubtedly going to be necessary.
Tracking your calories and macros will allow you to make sure you are in the best possible muscle growth or fat loss position! This may mean carbohydrate loading, while for others, it may mean ketogenic eating. Either way, tracking allows you to follow what works best for YOUR body. Without monitoring your food intake, it is impossible to make the micro changes necessary during an intense dieting phase.
To optimize performance, you need to make sure your eating is on track and that your nutrition plan is in line for optimal performance. After all, if you're not getting results, why would you continue to put yourself through the hassle of watching what you eat.
This is where having a performance coach will put you at an advantage. Hiring a coach to prepare a top-notch nutrition plan will take care of your nutritional needs without excess stress.
If you want to get the most performance out of your diet with the least amount of discomfort, you will need to track your food intake to see optimal progress. Without monitoring, you'll have no possible reference point to troubleshoot off of when things go wrong.
As much as we like to think that performance nutrition is straightforward, the fact of the matter is it isn't.
Without tracking your performance, nutrition performance will be compromised because you are taking a shot in the dark at what might work best for YOU.
In short, no. There're plenty of people who get results without daily tracking, and indeed, tracking your food can be exhausting when done for months on end. If you've already been tracking for a long time and have become mentally exhausted, maybe it may be time for a break.
Some people are not viable candidates for tracking in the first place at all! Macro tracking can be overwhelming to a new dieter. Still, nonetheless, I would recommend doing it for a few days if possible.
The initial shock of how much you consume in a day can make for a great motivator to quit those bad habits or start exercising more! Tracking your intake will also allow you to see what fats/carbs/proteins are actually in food rather than estimations from the serving sizes listed on packages.
I've been tracking macros for months on end, and I can tell you that the benefits are great. It is tiring at times, and the initial 3 weeks are the hardest - but you get used to it, and results do pay off.
Don't let the little things hold you back. Maybe you can't maintain tracking your food for an extended time, but that shouldn't hold you back. Try starting with just a few days and use it as a reality check when you stop progressing. You don't need to be perfect to make progress, but you do need to make an effort. What would be foolish is to keep twiddling away at the same old broken strategy. At the same time, you watch the weekly pass by without anything notable to show for your efforts.
At some point, you may be able to wean yourself off of the monotony of tracking or develop a viable alternative or portioning like what I use with some of my newer health-minded clients.
Maybe you hire a coach... Perhaps you get a kitchen scale for yourself... you could even measure food in advance for every meal...
The point is tracking and counting can help - it's advice for people who want to do better with performance/health goals in the future. If counting doesn't hold your attention after 3-6 months, then stop. That being said, if you haven't given food tracking a solid 3 months' worth of effort, then you'd be foolish to not give it a thorough try.